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Jim Crawford: Campaign advice for Biden and Harris

In an election like no other, an America constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic and an opponent unlike any other, the Biden campaign needs a campaign that works in chaos.

But, in one regard at least, nothing has really changed. While personal appearances must be limited, and social media must be utilized, big ideas still must compete and, this year, they must compete not with other big ideas, but with alternative realities.

Specifically, the Trump campaign, and the Republican Party, have no policies, no specific priorities and no programs. Their argument is, “Whatever Trump Says.” That may sound like a criticism; it is not, it is simply an observation. Neither the president nor the party has named any big ideas for re-election.

So, the Biden campaign must present their big ideas, in easy-to-understand common language, so voters can see at least one party with plans to govern. The Biden folks must still remember that voters do not want buried in nuances of policy — just name your top three or four programs, make them easily understandable and say them over and over.

Three big ideas stand out, and, right now, the Biden campaign is only presenting two of the big ideas, ignoring what will be for many voters, the biggest idea. Health care is an American crisis, and Trump is working right now to end the Affordable Care Act for 23 million Americans and, in the process, end protections for pre-existing conditions. This issue won the 2018 mid-term elections for the Democrats. It can win the 2020 election now.

The other two big ideas are the coronavirus and the economy. On the virus, the Biden folks need to slightly change their messaging to reduce emphasis on the negative reminders of mask wearing and future shutdowns, and push the importance of unlimited testing, free for everyone, and of better organizing and administrating the vaccines once they are available.

Give encouragement to the British early vaccine possibility and, in that process, mock Trumps’ desire to take credit for a vaccine he has absolutely nothing to do with.

On the economy, Biden only needs to focus on the middle of the American economy, where layoffs are killing the recovery and unemployment protections are too low to protect people who have worked all their lives. He must remind voters that he wants to help fund child care, better fund unemployment through the pandemic and protect everyone’s health care access until the crisis has passed.

Additionally, Biden must use his many surrogates to call out Trump’s false economic claims. The Trump economy was, at best, nothing more than a continuation of the Obama-Biden economy, but created fewer jobs with greater debt. And the Trump economy today is an ongoing disaster that has no end in sight. The president tweets while the economy burns, and the

Biden campaign works to develop programs the government can use to re-build the economy better.

Finally, Trump, a co-conspirator to a felony, an accused rapist in an ongoing lawsuit, under investigation by the DOJ for financial felonies in his business for providing false financial statements, is not concerned in the least with lawful behavior. The Trump who got Roger Stone out of prison for refusing to tell Justice the truth about Trump, is hardly a president who is worried about the law.

Worse still, Trump’s very idea of law is founded in this: “For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law,” from the words of a South American dictator. The law in Trumpland is fungible, floating, disposable, subject to favor. The Biden campaign must charge the Trump campaign with its laughable assertion of law and order.

Do not fight Trump on character, he has none and he could care less. Fight him on his massive incompetence, for that no alternative reality can defend.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.